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  1. #1
    Senior Member The Domestique's Avatar
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    Race video: Critique our bad team tactics?

    I hope you find this interesting. It has been dubbed the "What not to do by Team Blue" video. There may have been some team mistakes. However, there are lots of exciting moments.

    I would love to get some suggestions from the group about team tactics. While the video describes what I was thinking, it may (or likely is) flawed.



    What roles should riders be playing?

  2. #2
    Senior Member The Domestique's Avatar
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    FYI,This is a Masters B (4&5) 35+, Masters 45+ all race. While part of a training crit series, it still offers upgrade points and riders treat it with respect.

    Critique is nice, rudeness is not necessary.

  3. #3
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Why are you guys chasing your own teammates in the break?
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  4. #4
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    There are two opposing things at work here.

    First, if you have a teammate ahead of you and they're decent and the group is a decent size (3-4-5 in this race) you STOP PEDALING until you're on a non-teammate's wheel. Even soft pedaling is pedaling, and if you're soft pedaling at 200w you're doing 200w of help for someone else. There are exceptions but not on this course. You absolutely should not turn a pedal at the front once there's a gap to a teammate in a group in front. Force the other teams and individuals to close the gap, not you.

    The opposing factor - it looks like a small field and it looks like it's a pretty informal race. Therefore I'd recommend not using team tactics fully. On our Tues Night Worlds my teammates will start chasing once the break gets half a lap or so no matter who's in the break. It's a training race and they don't want to sit in the whole time. (I'm not as strong so I sit in and hope I can just finish, and I haven't for a while now). In your case it looks like your team has a full 1/4 to 1/3 of the field. Although you can try and set up your leader type riders, you'll find it boring and not real fun if it's too easy (and done right you'll be soft pedaling most of the race). The other teams/riders will get discouraged too, and it can cause poorer turnout and ultimately make the race less fun.

    My thoughts on compromise are to do the following:
    1. You probably want one of your teammates to win the series, maybe two. They'll be your leaders. Ideally one is better at breaks, one at sprinting, or both are just strong so they can do whatever. Try and launch one in a break (meaning with 2-3 other riders for help). Then set up the other leader for the finish (or bridge or whatever you decide).

    1a. Until the break is gone, you have to have 1-2-3 guys responsible for chasing down any breaks that don't have teammates. Keep your strong guys in reserve, i.e. 10th or 15th spot. Not 4th or 5th. If there are 3 guys away at any time and you have no one up there the field should be totally strung out with your team at the front.

    2. Once a break with the right teammate gets a good way up the road, chase it, even if it has your leaders. Don't kill yourself but definitely keep the pace up. Keep enough in reserve to follow counters, because they'll be coming. When the gap becomes almost manageable (for me 10s is manageable so let the gap drop to 15s) then stop working. It's just a bike race and it's more fun if everyone still has a chance.

    3. If you have a teammate off the front in a preferred situation, you never, ever see the wind. Ever. This includes a gap (anything more than a couple bike lengths) to your teammate, a gap to a rider on your teammate's wheel, etc. If you are at the front of any group, i.e. you're in the wind, and you have a teammate in front of you, coast. One the first lap you should not have pedaled at all until at least one or two riders filled your bar cam. When you have two teammates dangling a couple lengths apart off the front they should either sit up or bury it. If you're a couple lengths back you should ease until a couple bikes fill your bar cam.

    I'm saying coast because I'll tell a Cat 5 to "go easy" so they go 26 mph instead of 28 mph. If you're at the front with teammate/s up the road it should be because you're going 12 mph and no one wants to come around you (and that's a flat road - figure 3-4 mph up a hill). If you're not going 12 mph you're going too fast. Maybe 8 mph if it's a stiff headwind. I'm absolutely serious on this. When I sat up in a crit I was going 14.5 mph for a while, waiting for the field. I've hit my brakes as I coasted off the front in order to check my speed. You really need to slow the eff down.

    Here's the test - hold your breath until someone passes you. You can do whatever you want, but you're not allowed to breathe. If you cheat and breathe then you're doing it all wrong.

    4. See 3 above.

    5. If you have a guy off in a break, follow all counters immediately. You can rotate a number of guys to follow moves, meaning A, B, C, then D. If A followed the last move and you're B, you follow the next move no matter what. If the move starts to gain time, see number 4 above. Never ever let a guy go without a teammate on the wheel.

    6. Teammate on the wheel of a counter attack should see number 4 above. If they go into the wind they should hold their breath until a rider is in front of them.

    7. If everyone is starting to look discouraged and the break is just romping away from the field, ignore 6, 5, 4, 3, and follow #2. Work hard. Chase fast. Make it a race again. Then follow the guys trying to get away.

    Rinse and repeat.

    You should Strava the race and make it a segment. Strava will calculate lap times for you. You should be able to do a blazing fast lap with your team at the front, probably faster than any lap done in your race so far (look for a Cat 2-3 lap for reference to time). Check your average lap times and you can even try and do a Tour finish for a sprint. For example, at New Britain, the slower laps are 2:20s and the fast laps are 2:00s, at least in the heat. In cooler weather it's 10 seconds faster. Regardless the slower laps are 20 seconds slower. I bet you can let a break hit the bell with a 20 second gap without a teammate in it and you can get your team to win the race - they'd have to do a 100% committed leadout but your sprinter should be able to take close to 20 seconds off the lead. If nothing else it'll make the race more interesting.

    The way to deal with teammates that don't want to play is to just ignore them. Treat them like a non-teammate. If they attack, you have to chase. If they chase a teammate, either let him go (if there's already a gap or a good speed difference) or stay on his wheel and don't pull (#3 above). With such a teammate the holding breath rule doesn't apply.

  5. #5
    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    I disagree with #3.

    Another tactic is to sit at the front and 'pull' but at a speed you know is less than your team mate up the road. This is setting a false tempo.

    Riders behind think you are an idjit and chasing down your own guy but what you are really doing is making them wait all the while the gap opens. This works well with a lead out and fade. By this I mean you sit in second wheel (or a few wheels back) while the guy(s) at the front drills it. You 'allow' a gap to open up and let them roll away from the group. Again, the riders behind you think you're either not so strong or a little dumb. Either way you are lulling them into waiting as your rider pulls away from the field.

    Once someone finally jumps around you either you, or a team mate, need to get on their wheel and let them pull you across. If they pull the group across then the marking rider should jump just before the catch.

    Or...
    BLOG of BOB: Old Guy Racer
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  6. #6
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    I disagree with #3.

    Another tactic is to sit at the front and 'pull' but at a speed you know is less than your team mate up the road. This is setting a false tempo.

    Riders behind think you are an idjit and chasing down your own guy but what you are really doing is making them wait all the while the gap opens.
    I pedal really, really fast.

    Really fast.

    Put my head down.

    Breathe hard.

    wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    I disagree with #3.

    Another tactic is to sit at the front and 'pull' but at a speed you know is less than your team mate up the road. This is setting a false tempo.
    Generally I agree with you. But keep in mind part of my post: "I'm saying coast because I'll tell a Cat 5 to "go easy" so they go 26 mph instead of 28 mph." An inexperienced rider "setting tempo" will almost always go fast, faster than necessary. It's much easier to apply a general rule then apply nuances later.

    In lower category races many times a break doesn't roll away if the field is going even a moderate tempo (28 mph for example on a flat road).

  8. #8
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Another common mistake is when someone tries to "bridge". Only acceleration is not fast/explosive enough, and just ends up being a fast tempo. So they drag the rest of the field to the breakaway. I think this what happened to me few races back. I and another guy broke free with 5 or 4 laps to go. Leading in to final lap we got caught. Who was in the front? His teammate. So either he was an ahole and chased his own teammate down, or tried to bridge but sucked at it, so he pulled the rest of the pack with him.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  9. #9
    Senior Member The Domestique's Avatar
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    That's what I thought....

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    I disagree with #3.

    Another tactic is to sit at the front and 'pull' but at a speed you know is less than your team mate up the road. This is setting a false tempo.

    Riders behind think you are an idjit and chasing down your own guy but what you are really doing is making them wait all the while the gap opens. This works well with a lead out and fade. By this I mean you sit in second wheel (or a few wheels back) while the guy(s) at the front drills it. You 'allow' a gap to open up and let them roll away from the group. Again, the riders behind you think you're either not so strong or a little dumb. Either way you are lulling them into waiting as your rider pulls away from the field.

    Once someone finally jumps around you either you, or a team mate, need to get on their wheel and let them pull you across. If they pull the group across then the marking rider should jump just before the catch.

    Or...
    Interesting to see the difference of opinion here. I always thought "blocking" was the preferred tactic when you have someone in a break, or trying to get one established. I understand making someone chase it back and NEVER helping with that.

  10. #10
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
    Another common mistake is when someone tries to "bridge". Only acceleration is not fast/explosive enough, and just ends up being a fast tempo. So they drag the rest of the field to the breakaway. I think this what happened to me few races back. I and another guy broke free with 5 or 4 laps to go. Leading in to final lap we got caught. Who was in the front? His teammate. So either he was an ahole and chased his own teammate down, or tried to bridge but sucked at it, so he pulled the rest of the pack with him.
    I think the bad bridge happens a lot. I've been guilty of it (fortunately in a practice crit), not realizing I had the pack with me. I had gotten a little gap, but they closed it and I didn't realize they had. There was also a time I just didn't realize it was my teammate that had gotten away. Wups.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  11. #11
    Super Moderator
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    There's nothing technically wrong with blocking, but it ought to be used judiciously. Fanning out the width of the road and physically blocking, not really good. Riding an accurate tempo at the front (24 mph for example), usually accepted.

    The problem with riding at the front is it's easy to lose track of the situation - how fast you're going, gap to the next rider, etc. Too often I've seen riders launch what they think is a clean attack, not realizing the field speed went from a stead 27 to a spiky 35 mph. Even if you get away clean you often provoke the field.

    What you don't realize when working at the front is that people behind are saving energy for another move. If you "ride tempo" at the front you may not be able to respond to a vicious attack when it counts. You have many choices in dissuading an effective chase, among the major ones are the following:

    1. Ride tempo at the front knowing that you are sheltering your opponents and may not be able to respond when said opponents launch a countermove.
    2. Sit on your opponents' wheels, don't pull through, and build reserves for the next act of the race, whatever that may be.
    3. Do nothing (sit at the back etc).

    If you are trying to control the field and find yourself unable to respond to a sharp attack and you were doing #1, you made an error.

    It's the racer's choice. If someone is racing against me, I prefer that they choose #1 most of the time. A strong (and uneducated) racer "setting tempo" can inadvertently pull back a 30 second gap to a break that contains teammates, basically by himself, over the course of 20-30 minutes. I've seen it done and benefited from it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Domestique View Post
    Interesting to see the difference of opinion here. I always thought "blocking" was the preferred tactic when you have someone in a break, or trying to get one established. I understand making someone chase it back and NEVER helping with that.
    With blocking, you also have to consider the course. The course in that video looks so wide and open that it's nearly impossible to block - riders can just go around you.

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